If you just look around the internet this morning you will find all kinds of savvy takes on conference expansion, or the lack thereof. A few points which I am sure others are making, but which I haven't read yet:
- Dan Beebe deserves a huge apology. I am among those who owe it to him. Yes, the Big XII in continuing under an uneasy truce (more on that later), but it abides nonetheless. Under the circumstances that's about all you could ask of him. Unless you're anybody in the conference other than Texas or Oklahoma. If you're Baylor, for example, you now reside in a conference where the revenue pie might be larger, but will definitely be cut into fewer slices. You also don't have to worry for the foreseeable future about whether you can secure that coveted invite from the MAC, NAC, WAC or soon to be formed Paddy-WAC, which will consist entirely of schools on the great plains founded by Irish immigrants. While Beebe won't leave the office as King of the World, he's not a deposed tinpot dictator trying to decide whether he wants it in the heart or the head, either. He'll live to fight another day.
- Texas A&M's Power Brokers are Longhorn-Whipped. That gal in Austin just keeps mistreating them, but they cannot figure out how to make sense of their existence without her. So while she's out shopping for designer handbags on South Beach, Gene Stallings and the boys will be working two jobs to pay the bills and continuing to ignore the overtures of the cute girl from accounting, who's been urging him to leave the shrew for months now. Texas A&M to the SEC would have been about branding. About being the only school in the richest state in the nation for high school football talent who could dangle trips to Death Valley and The Swamp in front of recruits, rather than jaunts to Manhattan, Kansas and Ames Iowa. Risky? Hell yeah. But with the potential to once and for all step out of UT's shadow. Admittedly, I am an outsider to that relationship. But I believe that the Aggie decision makers just botched what will come to be looked at as the most significant decision in the history of their sports program. Seriously, Texas A&M's brass just made a move that will not only lock them into little brother status, potentially for 15-20 years, but actually made Texas a bigger brother than it was before. A brother who will likely now have his own television network. For a while it looked like that outfit was run by a herd of bulls. In fact it appears to be a committee of steers.
- This is the definition of an uneasy truce. Something tells me we have not heard the last whispers of the Big XII's demise. Oh, the new TV money will make everybody happy, but it's only a temporary solution. Cocknfire hit the nail on the head: the original problem was Texas having too much gravitational pull in conference affairs. With Nebraska and Colorado gone, that pull is now stronger than ever. The BIG XII's new TV deal is likely to be a longterm arrangement, designed to keep everybody quiet for the foreseeable future, at least if Dan Beebe and the conference brass have anything to say about it. But there's very little in this new longterm deal that promotes the longterm health of the Big XII Conference. The thing's not dead yet, but that doesn't mean it's not still in need of a life-saving kidney transplant, for which the only matching donor was Gary Coleman.
- Bill Byrne may find that the pride of Aggieland is really a pride of hungry lions. Many A&M fans are furious and want SEC-types to know that this was not their doing. Athletic Director Bill Byrne apparently spent perhaps the most critical weekend of his tenure on vacation in Idaho, not in College Station. To me this means that either a) Byrne was shoved aside and is basically powerless, so that his presence wasn't missed or b) intentionally chose to be away at a time when he could have exerted some real power. Either way, former Michigan AD Bill Martin likes the cut of that fellow's jib. But you can bet this incident will not be forgotten around east Texas as quickly as it will in some other places.
I'll be back later this week with some recruiting coverage and absolutely no mention of the Pac-Televen, the Big Ten plus Two, or the Big XII-II. Which at this point is fine by me. Until then . . .